Wednesday, August 29, 2001

JUDGE McCALLA GETS TASTE OF JUDICIAL MEDICINE

JUDGE McCALLA GETS TASTE OF JUDICIAL MEDICINE

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2001 at 4:00 AM

In an extraordinary secret session closed to reporters and the public, a panel of federal appeals court judges met in a courtroom in Memphis Wednesday to consider whether U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla is fit to be a federal judge. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a court order closing the proceedings on the ninth floor of the federal building to public scrutiny. Reporters were turned away outside the elevators and told that they could not even be on the floor, much less inside the courtroom. Even in secret grand jury sessions, reporters are allowed outside the jury room and free to try to interview witnesses. Trials, whether they involve the president of the United States or paupers, are normally held in open court. The McCalla matter -- the vagueness is due to the federal courts’ refusal to disclose any information whatsoever about what is going on -- is not a trial as such but a special proceeding to look into complaints about the judge’s temperament. Neither the U.S. Marshall’s Office in Memphis nor the U.S. District Court Clerk’s office was able to provide a reporter with a copy of the Sixth Circuit Court order Wednesday. Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas E. Thompson referred questions to Sixth Circuit Executive James Higgins. But Higgins’ office in Cincinnati said he was unavailable until next Tuesday because he is in Memphis. McCalla has been presiding over a number of high-profile local cases including the Shelby County Jail case. The judge got himself in hot water in other trial hearings where he repeatedly scolded attorneys and questioned their professionalism. Now it is McCalla’s professionalism that is at issue. But the public isn’t getting so much as a peek.

McCALLA PUT ON LEAVE

McCALLA PUT ON LEAVE

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2001 at 4:00 AM

The Memphis Flyer has learned that a special investigating committee of the Judicial Council of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, after meeting in closed session Wednesday with U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla has placed Judge McCalla on six-month administrative leave during which he will receive “behavioral counseling” for “improper and intemperate conduct” toward lawyers appearing before him. A statement concerning the finding was issued by Boyce F. Martin Jr., chief judge, US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and chairman of the 6th Circuit Judicial Council, who further said that Judge McCalla had acknowledge “the factual accuracy and validity of the complaints” and had apologized to the lawyers, the judiciary, and the bar. Judge Martin’s statement was as follows: Statement from the 6th Circuit Judicial Council Regarding Judge McCalla “The special investigating committee of the Judicial Council of the 6th Circuit met today in Memphis to conduct a hearing as a part of its investigation into complaints of judicial misconduct filed by several attorneys against U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla of the Western distrivct of Tennessee. “Although the committee was prepared to receive testimony and other evidence and witnesses, Judge McCalla personally assured the committee that he acknowledges the factual accuracy and validity of the complaints of improper and intemperate conduct toward some lawyers who have appeared before him. In addition, Judge McCalla publicly apologized to the lawyers whom he has offended, as well as to the judiciary and the bar. “In light of Judge McCalla’s acceptance of the validity of the compllaints and the wrongfulness of his conduct the committee found it unnecessary to conduct a hearing to determine the factual basis for the complaints. “Upon consideration the committee will recommend to the judicial council that Judge McCalla be placed on administrative leave for a period of no less than six months, during which time Judge Mccalla will continue to receive behavioral counseling. “Judge McCalla has accepted these recommendations and agreed to abide by them.” Boyce F. Martin Jr., chief judge, US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and chairman of the 6th Circuit Judicial Council. An earlier story, posted today on the Flyer website, follows:
JUDGE MCCALLA GETS TASTE OF JUDICIAL MEDICINE
JOHN BRANSTON
In an extraordinary secret session closed to reporters and the public, a panel of federal appeals court judges met in a courtroom in Memphis Wednesday to consider whether U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla is fit to be a federal judge. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a court order closing the proceedings on the ninth floor of the federal building to public scrutiny. Reporters were turned away outside the elevators and told that they could not even be on the floor, much less inside the courtroom. Even in secret grand jury sessions, reporters are allowed outside the jury room and free to try to interview witnesses.Trials, whether they involve the president of the United States or paupers, are normally held in open court. The McCalla matter -- the vagueness is due to the federal courts’ refusal to disclose any information whatsoever about what is going on -- is not a trial as such but a special proceeding to look into complaints about the judge’s temperament. Neither the U.S. Marshall’s Office in Memphis nor the U.S. District Court Clerk’s office was able to provide a reporter with a copy of the Sixth Circuit Court order Wednesday. Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas E. Thompson referred questions to Sixth Circuit Executive James Higgins. But Higgins’ office in Cincinnati said he was unavailable until next Tuesday because he is in Memphis. McCalla has been presiding over a number of high-profile local cases including the Shelby County Jail case. The judge got himself in hot water in other trial hearings where he repeatedly scolded attorneys and questioned their professionalism. Now it is McCalla’s professionalism that is at issue. But the public isn’t getting so much as a peek.

FEDS INDICT LANG, KIRK

FEDS INDICT LANG, KIRK

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2001 at 4:00 AM

A federal grand jury has indicted former Trezevant. High school football coaches Lynn Lang and Milton Kirk on charges of conspiracy, use of an interstate facility to commit bribery, and extortion.

The indictment says the conspiracy was designed to obtain money, cars, and houses from universities and football boosters seeking to recruit star player Albert Means. The indictment does not name Means but refers to a certain student athlete at Trezevant.).

The charges stem from a joint investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the District Attorney General’s office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation,and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

”By our joint efforts I believe we are sending a clear message that the sale of high school athletes for personal gain will not be tolerated in our community,” said District Attorney General Bill Gibbons.

The nine-count indictment lays out details of Lang’s dealings with Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan State, the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee, and Florida State University.

According to the indictment Lang told coaches that the price for Means would be anything from $50,000 to $200,000, plus cars and a house.

Friday, August 17, 2001

EVANS REVERSED IN ARENA SUIT

EVANS REVERSED IN ARENA SUIT

Posted By on Fri, Aug 17, 2001 at 4:00 AM

The Tennessee Court of Appeals Friday reversed Chancellor Walter Evans' ruling and injunction against the city of Memphis and Shelby County in the NBA arena lawsuit.

The decision of the three-judge panel, which heard oral arguments Monday, is a victory for the city and county and a defeat for lawyer Duncan Ragsdale, who filed the original lawsuit. Ragsdale could still appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The appeals court said the city and county properly complied with legislation creating a sports authority and that a new arena is a valid public purpose.

"We conclude that the resolutions of the governmental entities and the contracts executed pursuant thereto are for a public purpose as construed by the Tennessee court and the decisions of courts in other states," the judges said in a 21-page ruling.

Evans ruled in July in Ragsdale's favor in a strongly worded ruling that took the city and county and even Ragsdale by surprise. The chancellor said there would have to be a referendum with 75 percent approval for the project as funded to proceed.

"There is every indication that the legislature intended for activities encompassed by the Sports Authority Act to be identified as a public purpose," says the appeals court ruling. "Courts are not authorized to consider whether legislation is unwise or inequitable; thus, we cannot consider the wisdom or necessity of the legislature's policy decisions."

The court said legislators are entitled to "great deference" and that "the court should not substitute its judgment for that of the legislative body

Thursday, August 2, 2001

JOHN DALY'S ON A ROLL!

JOHN DALY'S ON A ROLL!

Posted By on Thu, Aug 2, 2001 at 4:00 AM

John Daly, the sometime Memphis-area resident who was the last major golfing phenom before the advent of Tiger Woods, may have had his troubles with women in the past, but, like other males before him, he's discovered the truth of the old adage: When it rains, it pours. This is the man who gained a reputation as his game's biggest hitter in the '90s but missed greatness while having problems with alcohol and a difficult first marriage. He's a newlywed again, though, and not only does wedlock seem to be treating him better this time, his new wife didn't even mind when another female - Lady Luck, to be exact - turned up on the honeymoon in Tunica. Some two weeks ago, the freshly married John and Sherry Daly visited Bally's and, according to a well-placed source, left with some $700,000 of the casino's cash. Whether that was what prompted the gesture or not, another Tunica casino, Horseshoe, has since decided to hold its own wedding reception for The Dalys on the night of August 12th. And if John wants to try his luck afterward, well....We'll keep you posted on how that visit turns out. And, who knows? Yesterday, Bally's. Tomorrow, Hollywood's. Maybe in the not-too-distant future, it'll be Augusta, Ga. Another Master's championship jacket would like nice on Daly if he wants to keep collecting green.
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